In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

Two PoemsLes Murray
Close
Close

Aircraft Stressed-Skin Blowout Mid-Pacific

The miles-high bubble civility
ruptured, and instantly the tear
stormed with a jetlike volatility
of baggage shoes people into air
darkly white and shrilling as the pole
that every unbuckled thing was whirling to.
Windmilling toward seats already nowhere
a member of the cabin crew
was going with the West out the hole
when legs in a scissor lock around her
and male hands in her clothes before the blue
absolute mastered it, raped her of fall
then, under restored equal pressure,
gestured in a tear-halo with joking humility.

The Ocean Baths

Chinning the bar or Thirties concrete rim
of this ocean baths as the surf flings velleities of spray
brimming the bright screen
I am in not the sea but the sea’s television.

As the one starfish below me quivers up
through a fictive kelp of diffraction, I’m thinking of workers
who made pool-cementing last, neap tide by neap,
right through the Depression

then went to the war, the one that fathered the Bomb
which relegated war to the lurid antique new nations
of emerging television. All those appalling horizontals
to be made vertical and kept the size of a screen –

I duck out of focus
down chill slub walls in this loud kinking room
that still echoes Fung blunger the swearwords Orh you Kongs
of men on relief for years, trapping ocean in oblongs,

and check out four hard roads tamed to a numinous
joke on it all, through being stood up side-on
and joined at their stone ends by bumper-smokers who could,
just by looking up, see out of relegation –

here the sky, the size of a mirror, the size of a fix
becomes imperative: I explode up through it beneath
a whole flowering height of villas and chlorine tiled pools
where some men still swear hard
to keep faith with their fathers the poor, obsolete and sacred.

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